For many, the upcoming holiday season will be a time for both travel and celebration. Both activities tie into a practice which has the potential to interfere with international travel by foreign nationals. The US Department of State (DOS) has authority to revoke the visa stamp of individuals who have been charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DUI) or related charges. This practice is known as “prudential revocation” and can occur without the knowledge of the foreign national. US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Private Sector Exchange, September 2, 2016

Under current DOS policy, visas must be revoked if DOS learns of a DUI or similar charge occurring after the visa is issued. While a visa revocation does not disrupt the status or work authorization of a foreign national in the US, it invalidates the document needed for entry or return to the US. DOS’ authority for such revocations extends to both recent DUI charges, as well as charges within the past five years (if not considered at the time of the visa application).

One of the most problematic issues is that foreign nationals are often unaware of the prudential visa revocation. DOS procedures require notification, but these communications are not always received. As a result, unwitting foreign nationals find themselves refused airline boarding, stranded abroad, and delayed in their return to the US.

These individuals typically must apply to renew their visa at a US consulate in order to be allowed to re-enter the US. Visa stamp renewal is never guaranteed. Those with DUI or related charges in their histories face additional hurdles to visa approval, making it an important issue to consider before travel.

HR Departments should alert their employees to this issue. Individuals who were charged with DUI or a similar charge after obtaining a visa stamp should seek legal advice before attempting to use the stamp for travel.